When one challenge is never enough.

Greetings dear reader. I hope today finds you well, and if you are reading this in early May in the UK, I hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather as much as I am.

Despite deciding in my last blog post that I would run every other day, in a controversial and unconventional twist to usual marathon and running training, I have not been doing any running what so ever. The main reason for this is that in the time that I would usually devote to running I have been trying to improve my golf instead, as I recently joined a golf club.

The good news about trying to improve my golf is, I find it equally as hard as I find trying to improve my running. It is like trying to improve skills is difficult. Like you don’t instantly become good at things after giving them a go for a while.

Now of course, I am aware that building skills takes time. The problem with this is, I have played golf for well over 20 years, and been running for almost 10. You would have thought this would have been enough time to build up some reasonable skill in both, and if I am being honest and fair to myself, I think I probably have.

I can play a competitive round of golf, absolutely love playing and am probably about average in terms of skill. (photos below from a recent round at Hindhead, where I am not a member, but would dearly love to be).

I am probably also an average runner. I plod along at about 10min/mile pace on shorter runs, which I reckon is about average. Maybe a bit slower than average, but never the less, somewhere very much in the middle.

Also, this birthday I am 44. And it is hard to improve your skills in your 40’s. The prime of my life is really behind me at this point. But just cause something is hard, does not mean it should not be attempted. On the contrary, the harder or more challenging something is the more it makes me want to do it.

This finally brings me onto the point of this blog post. What do you do when one marathon is not enough? Well you book another one. Then, just to double down, you also book a slightly different but equally big challenge around the same time and bingo, you have suddenly made something that is hard an awful lot harder.

Challenge number 1 take place on the 3rd/4th September and is the South Coast Challenge, a 100km hike from Eastbourne to Arundel. This challenge is courtesy of my wife, who decided to take this on to raise some money in memory of a friend of ours who died far too young, leaving behind too young kids and a wife. I love walking and my favourite person to walk with is my wife, so I thought I would join her and keep her company. Rather than me tell you about it, check out her blog to see what it is all about. And before you say it, I know what you are thinking. Yes my wife and I both have blogs. That is just how fecking cool we are. Don’t be too jealous. Haters gonna hate 🙂

Challenge number 2 will be London Marathon on the 2nd October. This is a marathon. In London. The big one. Probably the most famous marathon in the world. The one I am already VERY nervous about, despite it being 20 weeks away.

Challenge number 3 will be the Beachy Head Marathon on the 22nd October. Another marathon. Starting in Eastbourne. I have run this one before a few times. It is tough. Very tough. All marathons are tough, but this is rather hilly. And usually very windy. And often very rainy. It’s a great event.

Beachy Head Marathon. Quite Hilly!

So those are my three events for 2022. Nothing until September, then it all kicks right off! It’s going to be interesting for me, as training for a 100km hike is going to be a bit different to a training for a marathon. I have never trained up for a long hike before. Looking forward to it.

The biggest challenge in all of this will be recovery. In marathon training, your hardest week of training is 3 weeks before the event. You then “taper” (which is when you reduce your training load), to reach the start line at the marathon in peak condition. A two week taper allows your body to recover from the training load and you lose very little fitness during this time.

I am going to complete the two day hike with my wife the weekend before my longest training week. This could easily result in too much training load and that risks injury, which is the last thing I need just before the London Maraton. Fingers crossed that I will be in good shape by then and find it easier than I imagine it being.

Speaking of shape, so far so good on Project 80. Weigh in again tomorrow to see if I can continue the downwards trend.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Wherever you are reading this I hope you have a great day/evening and if anybody fancies a round of golf, let me know.



Let it never be said I am not determined

As keen readers of this blog will be aware I had a bit of a disasterous run last week. (link here)

My solution to this bad run is the same as my usual solution when I face any sort of adversity. To dig in and to try harder. After my awful run, I resolved to keep doing the exact same loop that I was attempting until I can run it with ease. After all, the thing to do after you fall off a horse is to get back on (apparently). To be honest, I have never ridden a horse and I imagine if I did fall off it would hurt like hell, as I am old and feeble these days, but the analogy still works.

So two days after my disasterous run, I went out on the same 4 mile (6.4km) loop and this happened.

A HUGE improvement on the 55 minutes it took me 2 days before, and much closer to the pace I would expect. Before you start high fiving yourself with joy, this is not all good news. My HR was a lot higher than I would have liked at that pace.

Under ideal circumstances the pace that I was running at (which is about 10 minute/mile pace for those of you who live in the stone age and still calculate your running in miles) should be in Zone 2. My HR should be hovering around 140 at that speed. As you can see it was mostly up in the 150’s.

The problem with this is that to train effectively, the majority of your training should be at an “easy” pace. Slow enough you can have a conversation. This is the 80/20 rule, which I will post about properly some time soon, but essentially 80% of your training should be easy and 20% should be hard. We are talking really rather easy and really rather hard. here. Opposite ends of the scale.

What lots of endurance athletes do (me included) is complete the majority of their training somwhere in the “comfortably uncomfortable” range, which for purposes of the diagram above is Tempo moving up to Threshold. I can run in this zone for a long time, which is all well and good, but 80/20 research shows that the fastest fitness gains are made when you avoid training in Z3/Z4 almost entirely.

The problem I have is that Z1/Z2 is so incredibly slow for me that it is practically walking and often my ego gets in the way and I just wanna run. Somthing for me to address in the future.

Anyway, the first run after my disasterous run was good, so 2 days later I set off again on the same course, and this happened.

Same route, with almost exactly the same time and pace, but the HR was higher again still. Now the explanation for this is an easy one. It was much hotter. Like over 20 degrees. And Snooky does not cope very well when it is hot. I love the heat. It does not love me.

Taking the positives , that is two runs on the same route that are getting somehwere back towards the pace that I would like.

The plan is to keep running this same 4 mile route once every 2 days until I can complete it in around 40 mins and my HR stays mostly in Zone 2. As you can see below, I have run this pace before, but it was a while ago now.

28th May 2018 – same route

So above is the same route (actually 480 metres further) in under 40 mins. Sadly, there is no HR data for this run, but I imagine this was close to flat out for me 4 years ago, so likely to be high. Anyway, it proves that the speed is possible. Now just to get the HR down.

It’s only 7 or so weeks until my proper marathon training plan kicks into place. If all goes well, by then I will be running at sub 10 minute mile pace (sub 6 min/km) with a HR around the 140 mark and will be in a good spot for starting my marathon training. Also, I should weigh a lot less than I do now (see Project 80 for more details).

Hope you are all keeping well out there in the world and for those of you in the UK you are enjoying the good weather.



It is time to move to DEFCON 4

If you are not familiar with DEFCON statuses, then you have clearly not seem the 1983 film War Games. And if you have not seen the film War Games, then you should immediately stop what you are doing, go and watch War Games, then come back and read the rest of this. Because you clearly have not lived.

Now you have seen War Games and are familiar with the DEFCON statuses, you will understand that DEFCON 4 is not good. We are very close to full blown panic here people. And this is precisely where I find myself. Let me tell you a little story, dear reader.

War Games – Its got Matthew Broderick in it

So today is Good Friday. Which is something to do with Jesus. Anyway, it is a bank holiday which means that you don’t have to work. Except in my case I did do a bit of work this morning. Even though it is bank holiday. But that is not the point so I will shut up about it.

Anyway I woke up, did a bit of work, tidyed up the garden and got ready for our friends who were coming round for a BBQ. Now usually this would be a good opportunity for me to relax and have a few beers, but I wanted to go for a run, so no beers for me.

We had a lovely BBQ, the kids played in the garden, it was warm (but not too warm) and all was well.

After everybody had gone about 7.30pm it was time for my run. A simple 35 minute route that I have run 1000 times. I was happy with myself for eating well during the day and not having any drinks and was ready to run.

No sooner had I set out of the door and started running that my right hip flexor immediately screamed out in pain. Now I had warmed up properly and was running slowly, but it instantly hurt, a lot. Now this is nothing new for me. My hip flexors fail all the time and they hurt a lot when I run, but usually after about 20 miles or so, not 20 metres.

On I plodded, hip flexor screaming with every stride and then I started to feel like I was running through treacle. Like the air itself was thick. Like running in a swimming pool. Goodness me it was hard. My heart rate was way too high for the pace I was doing and I could not get any air in. I checked my watch, I had run 800 metres!

Slowing down, I kept on going, hoping these early run niggles would go away and I could get into my stride. How wrong I was. The hip pain was then joined by knee pain on the same side. I could not shake the thought in my head spinning round and round. “You are going to have to walk” it kept saying to me. Walk. Fecking Walk! I had done just over 1km and I was having to walk. But walk I did. I had absolutely nothing in the tank.

Now this was not a great situation to be in. I am not the best runner in the world, but I can run a bit. Under normal circumstances I can easily run for 35 minutes, but this is clearly not normal circumstances.

I was angry with myself. Angry that my lungs seem to have packed up and not get any air in. That my muscles and body seemed to be as tired as it would be at the end of an Ultra Marathon. Understandable in an Ultra Marathon. Not so understandable after 1km of running.

Now there is nothing wrong with walking. In fact, I walk a lot during my marathons, but this was not a marathon. This was a 35 minute run that there should be no walking. So I decided to run again. And run I did, slowly, for about 100 metres, and then I had to stop, again. And this is how it went for a while. Run for a bit, get exhausted, walk, run for a bit, get exhausted, you get the idea.

20 minutes into my “run” and I had covered just over 2km. Not good. I felt awful. I was very sad and angry and I did not understand. A mental checklist went through my mind.

  • Am I overtrained – No
  • Did I sleep well last night – Yes
  • Any boozing – No
  • Diet decent – Yes
  • Did I run recently and that is why I am struggling – No

There was no obvious reason. As the time wound on I was just getting more and more upset. I felt so sad I could cry. How the hell am I ever going to be able to run a marathon for Daisy’s Dream if I can’t even run for 35 minutes? I am a better runner than this. But clearly that is not the case.

40 minutes into the run and the 5km distance clocked up on my watch with a unceremonious beep. The beep almost felt like it was mocking me. Stupid watch. I was about 1km from home and it may as well have been 100. There I was, in my full run gear with running vest, cap, shorts and trainers walking down the main road back to my house. Like an overweight fella who thought he could run but clearly could not. Shuffling along like a useless blob. I was sad and angry in equal measure, so I forced myself to run. I can run 1km. Just run. Run Snooky, run.

So I ran, for about 200 metres and then my back started to hurt. So now I have the following things wrong with me.

  1. My right hip flexor is agony each time my foot hits the groud
  2. My right knee is hurting me
  3. I cannot get any air into my lungs at all
  4. I feel like I am running through treacle
  5. My back hurts

All this after 5km of “running”. A marathon is 42km. I have done many of them. I quickly worked out that at the pace I had run I would be looking at a 6hr 30 minute marathon finishing time. You can walk one faster than that!

So I walked, again. All the way home. It took me 55 minutes to complete a loop that normally takes 35. For those mathemeticians amongst us, that is an increase of 57.14%.

And now I am sitting here, writing this blog. My hips are aching me. My shoulders ache. My left knee is now a bit sore. From a 6km walk with a bit of running. Absolutely and completely pathetic.

I know what I am going to do about this. The same thing that I always do. But I will tell you what that is another time.

Enjoy your Easter weekend people. Hope that the sun shines and you get lost of nice chocolate eggs to scoff down and that if you do go out running, it is better than mine. Though you would do well to make it worse.



Project 80 – 133rd times a charm!

So, only one week and one day later than planned, Project 80 launches today.

Project 80 is simple. I need to weight 80kg or less by the time I get to run London Marathon. Ideally, it could do with being closer to 75kg I think, but 80 is probably more realistic.

Before we get into why this is important, I am aware that some of you cannot figure out kilograms (kg) and may prefer weight measurements to be in stone and pounds (st, lbs) or just pounds (lbs). I will do my best to do the relevant conversions for you as we go though this.

How we weigh ourselves in stones in the UK. This fella is around 1 stone!

So, a long time ago I wrote a blog post explaining why weight is particularly important in running. At the time I was training for a 100 mile ultra marathon (which I never even made the start line of) but if you want to read this you can find it here. Time to Address the Elephant in the Room

The basic premise is this.

  • When you run the ground force through your joints is 2 – 2.9 times your body weight each time your foot hits the ground
  • A marathon is 42,000 metres. Assuming I travel a metre per stride, that is 42,000 foot strikes
  • If I weight 100kg (15st 10lbs, 220lbs) then this is 100 x 2.5 (if we take the average from the first point) x 42,000 which equals 10,500,000kg of force my legs have to absorb over a marathon distance.
  • If I weigh 80 kg (12st 8lbs, 176lbs) this number reduces to 8,400,000kg of force, a reduction of 2.1 million kg of force my body has to absorb
  • The largest bull elephants weigh about 6000kg, so the reduction in impact force is around 350 elephants worth. Thats quite a lot.

Then things get even more interesting. According to a podcast I listened to a long time ago (which I now cannot find to reference) athetic performance increases roughly 5% for every 10% of bodyweight you drop, assuming that you only drop fat and maintain muscle. Now bearing in mind I want to drop about 20-25% bodyweight (I currently weight more than 100kg (220lbs or 15st 10lbs) I could be looking at a performance increase of 10% or more. This would mean that my current marathon speed of around 12.5 minute miles would improve to possibly sub 11 minute miles, which would improve my marathon finish time from 5hrs 30 minutes to around 4hrs 48 minutes.

Now all of the above is just based on weight alone. It does not factor in improvements in fitness that can be made from training. It is only taking into account my current level of fitness and my current weight vs my ideal racing weight. So if I get the training right and the weight loss right I could be closing in on 4hr 30min marathon, or perhaps less.

Whilst marathon running is not all about finishing times, believe me being out there for an hour less is a good thing. Marathons are hard. Really hard. You usually feel OK up to around mile 18-20, then you face 6-8 miles of pain and suffering to get over the line. If that pain and suffering can last a bit less time that can only be a good thing.

My knees hurt!

All things considered it is a good idea to weigh less than I do when running. Quite a lot less in fact. So, for the 133rd time of trying, I am going to have to lose weight. Something that is relatively easy to do in your 20’s, trickier in your 30’s and very hard to do in your 40’s. Combined with the fact that endurance exercise is not actually that good for weight loss (I will blog about this another time) and the fact that too much training tends to break my body anyway, basically I am just going to have to eat a lot less.

I really like food though. That is how I got into this position in the first place 🙂

Then again, if White Goodman can succeed on his weight loss journey and almost lead the Cobras to victory against Honest Joes in the American Dodgeball Association of America International Dodgeball Competition then I am sure I can do the same, and run London at a weight substantially less than I am right now.

It’s a metaphor.

So off we go. Not only do I need to train hard and rest and recover, but I will be needing to do this on a calorie deficit. Should be fun.

Next post will be about running and not about being overweight, I promise.

To track Project 80 and see how well (or not) I am getting on please use the Project 80 page



They think its all over……..it is now

Today I sent an email to Centurion advising them that I would not be running the South Downs Way 100 this year.

My training has gone pretty much to plan and I stuck with the programme I wrote myself. It was a good plan, ramping up slowly and giving me a rest week ever 4 weeks to allow the training effects to kick in and giving my body time to recover.

Despite all that, somewhere it went wrong cause as I got to the business end of the training (just 7 weeks to go) my body just could not cope. My knees sound like somebody is grating concrete inside them when I walk around, my hips are permanently in pain and I just seemingly fell apart.

More Hip Op than Hip Hop Birthday Card: Amazon.co.uk: Office Products

This could be for any number of reasons. Training load too high, pushed too hard, didn’t do enough strength and mobility work, wrong shoes (though I doubt this one), not enough sleep, not enough rest, poor diet, or it could simply be due to the fact that I reached my natural limit.

Either way, I will not be lacing up my trainers and making it to the start line this year.

I do have half a plan in my head to try and run again in 2024, but a lot of things would need to slot in place in order to make that a reality.

The good news in all of this is that withdrawing from this race gives me a chance to concentrate on my other race this year, which previously had a bit of a back seat but has now jumped to the front.

My next blog post will be all about this. In the meantime I will just have to mentally overcome the disappointment of not making the start line, regroup and go from there.

For all those who do make the start, I really hope the race is kind to you and that you make the finish.



Shall we try again…..?

For those of you who remember this blog from before, or even the previous incarnation (known as Iron Snook), you will be relieved, excited and all round thrilled to learn that the blog is back.

For those of you who are reading my blog for the first time, please let me bid you a hearty welcome.

I have decided to start writing this again as we are living in rather crazy times and I wanted to provide a little oasis of sanity, and perhaps hope, as the world falls apart around us.

OK, perhaps this is a bit overly dramatic, but certainly modern Britain looks a lot different than it did a year ago. That being said, some things have not changed. Crucial to this blog, the things that have remained consistent are:

  1. I am a very very very bad runner.
  2. I still have the innate ability to gain 1 or 2kg in weight by just glancing towards a piece of cake. That’s right folks, I don’t even have to eat it any more. I just need to look at cake to absorb its calories. Rather a shit super power, but I guess you don’t get to choose your gifts.
  3. My reach still exceeds my grasp (more on this later).
  4. I am still terrified of failure.
I'm out of it a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur. - Han  Solo DOG | Meme Generator

Remember when Han Solo gets defrosted from the carbonite in Jabba’s Palace? In fact I have no idea why I am asking, of course you remember that. One of the best scenes in Star Wars. Anyway, after he is unfrozen and chucked in a prison cell Chewbacca tells him that Luke Skywalker has become a Jedi Knight. Han exclaims in disbelief “I am out of it for a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur”.

Well “delusions of grandeur” perfectly describes my current project, trying to run the South Downs Way 100 in June 2021. I have already failed twice in 2020 to complete this race. Luckily for me, Covid came to the rescue and the 2020 summer race was postponed until November, to then be postponed again to June 2021. I was not ready for either of the 2020 races and would not have made the start line.

Despite the fact that I failed to avoid injury and train up to make this race twice before, my “delusion of grandeur” allows me to think, for some unknown reason, that this summer might be different. That for some reason, though I have been physically incapable of making the start line twice before, that history will not repeat itself. That this time it will be better.

You never know though, I might just get away with it. I wrote a training plan back in December and have stuck to it so far. I am trying as hard as I can to get a bit of weight off. I am doing Yoga and mobility work 3 times a week minimum. I am lifting weights regularly to maintain core and muscle strength. I have even given up beer!

Yoda pie chart | FlowingData

So now all I have to do is train. Probably harder than I have ever trained before. I have to eat clean, look after my body, try and improve my mobility, get plenty of rest. I have to maintain a positive focus on my goal, realising that there will be slip ups along the way. I have to enjoy the journey. And as long as I do all of these things, there is a very good chance that I will arrive at the start line in Winchester on the 12th June 2021 in the best shape I have ever been in.

As Master Yoda says, “Do or Do Not, there is no Try”. So I will do the training. I will do all the other things I need to do. Then I will run from Winchester to Eastbourne along the South Downs Way. 100 miles. 30 hours to complete it.

I will succeed. Despite my doubts. Despite the fact that I am a very shit runner. Despite the fact that I have no right what so ever to be on that starting line. I will complete this race.

So here is to the journey. To running in the dark, in the rain, in the freezing wind. To running when you are tired and your body aches. To getting up at 4am at the weekend to run so you don’t impact the rest of the day with your family. To the struggle and the pain and feeling like I am never gonna make it.

I hope you will join me on this journey as I chart it here. I promise not all of the posts will be about Star Wars.

May the Force be with you.


Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen

Only the coolest amongst you will recognise where the quote from the title of this blog post is from (hint, the image below is a big clue). For the rest of you it will mean very little, other than the fact that for once in my life, my training is going to plan.

Palpatine - Wikipedia

So far I have run 13 out of 13 of my planned training runs. That is right, I have not missed a single one yet.

“Big Woop” I here all of you runners who stick religiously to your training plans say. But for me, this is quite the achievement.

Under usual circumstances I write a detailed plan, set out with the best of intentions then after a week or so it goes right off the rails and I usually end up just writing yet another plan, to plan for where the first plan went wrong, then not sticking to the new one. Rinse and repeat and hey presto, you have pretty much summed up my approach to training over the last few years.

This time it seems very different. I have consistently trained through tiredness, heat, rain, niggling calves and ankles. I have gone out regardless, and I feel a lot better for it.

The idea or concept of consistency is a fascinating one. Whilst it is entirely logical that if you consistently do a thing over a long enough period you are bound to improve at it, for some reason it has taken me a VERY long time to come around to this idea.

I recently read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography. In that, he talks about how he convinced James Cameron to give him the role of the Terminator (which was originally supposed to have been played by OJ Simpson, believe it or not).

Pin on The Terminator

Arnold mentions to Cameron that the Terminator is an android (cybernetic organism to be precise) and as such, would not blink when firing off pistols, shotguns or automatic rifles. To add authenticity to the part, Cameron would need an actor who can train himself not to blink when shooting weapons. An actor who can condition his body not to do a thing which it naturally does to protect itself (eg blink when a very loud and very bright weapon is discharged close to the eyes, which are very delicate at the best of times).

Arnold goes on to say that he is uniquely qualified to train himself into this position, as it is just about reps (repetitions). He has lifted tonnes upon tonnes of weights, performing rep after rep to get the physique that took him to 7 Mr Olympia titles.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Mr. Universe 1967 from Austria | Arnold ...

Firing a gun without blinking, argues Arnold, is exactly the same. So that is what he did. He went to the firing range and trained for months on end, firing all manner of different weapons until he could shoot these guns without blinking.

If you watch the Terminator movies closely, in the scenes when he is shooting weapons Arnold never blinks. It is such a subtle thing, but adds to the overall lore of the movie and helps the audience to realise just how deadly this android (cybernetic organism) really is. How unfeeling it is. How not human it is. How it cares about nothing but killing.

An actor blinking as he shot would make him look human. Arnold realised that this was no good, but also that there was only one way to train yourself to be able to shoot without blinking, and that was repetition and consistency.

Whilst I absolutely love this story (Schwarzenegger is a bit of an idol for me) it also has direct correlation to my own training journey.

Have I ever really consistently applied myself to fitness training in the past? The answer to that is no. Have I ever just repped out my training runs. Rep after rep, run after run. No matter what, gone out and completed that run. Again, the answer is no.

For the first time in my athletic endeavours, the importance of just repetition and consistency is clearly obvious to me. The penny has finally dropped.

So here is to a further 17 weeks of consistent training. No missing any sessions. At all. For any reason. Consistent running. 5 times a week, every week, for 17 more weeks.

My body will adapt to this. I will get fitter. Only consistency and repetition will cause this to happen. And who knows, perhaps I will be able to not blink when the starting pistol sounds at 6am on the 7th November.

Here is to consistent training, loving the journey and making the start line.



What’s the plan then Stan?

Some time ago, I blogged about the benefits of writing your own training plan, rather than just following a set one that you can get from the internet. You can see this post here if you are interested. – Why you should write your own training plan.

In a break with tradition, I have decided to follow my own advice and have created my own training plan for SDW100. Following the always brilliant advice of Jason Koop, my initial focus will be on interval work to try to increase my VO2 max and also improve my overall running speed.

I have always been a slow runner, having come from zero running background and only picking up all this exercising malarkey in my mid 30’s I was starting from a less than strong position. Whilst running 100 miles is not about running fast, increased VO2 max will allow me to run quicker at a lower overall heart rate, which is vital to being able to sustain a decent pace for the 24-30 hours it is likely to take me to complete the 100 mile race.

Tortoise v Hare | When2Pray

After a short phase of interval work (about 5 weeks) I will be moving onto “tempo” runs, where I increase pace during a normal run to a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace and for 10 minutes or longer, then drop back to normal speed. Again this is designed to improve my running speed overall and to push my body to adapt to running more quickly over longer distances.

7 or so weeks of this, then we are into the final phase where I start to piggyback two long runs together, running perhaps 2 hours on a Saturday then 3 or 4 on a Sunday to help develop the longer range stamina. At this point, I will be only training on trails similar to the South Downs Way, will have to include a decent chunk of night time work to practice running in the dark and I will also be running at some very strange times in the day (2am starts, 4am starts etc) to help me get used to running when tired.

These longer runs will also be done carrying all the kit I will be needing on race day, again to help me adapt.

The overall idea of all of this is that I approach race day used to the terrain, used to running on tired legs, used to the darkness and the weight of the kit, whilst being able to maintain a quicker pace at a lower heart rate.

That’s the idea anyway. Am still very far from convinced that 20 weeks is enough time to get fit enough for this. Luckily I do hold a trump card. My ability to tolerate pain seems to be higher than most people and I am also extremely stubborn.

Despite breaking 3 ribs after only 6 miles of the Race to the King (which is 53 miles in total) I carried on and completed the race in a decent time. That was agony, I was only able to take in about a quarter breath and every time my foot hit the ground my ribs sent shooting pain through my chest. Admittedly I didn’t realise I had broken 3 ribs until I found myself in A&E the day after the race, but the fact remains that if I can battle through that, I should be able to battle through whatever 100 miles of the South Downs has to throw at me on November 7th.

Only time will tell I guess. Put in 20 weeks of decent training, make it to the start line with no injuries and then see how I get on.

Should be fun.

TTFN – Snooky

Guess who’s back……back again…

Snooky’s back…….tell your friends.

As Eminem once rapped “I’ve created a monster”, and it appears that I may well have done the same.

The South Downs Way 100 has been moved to November 7th (due to Covid-19). I knew this some time ago and made the executive (and probably wise) decision not to race. Since then I have done barely any training what so ever.

Fast forward a few months and with 20 weeks until the new date, I have decided that I am going to do my best to train and make the start line.

My motivation for this is 2-fold

1 – My usual running buddies of Wendy, Nicky and Freestone are all going to try to make it, so I think I probably should too.

2- The charity that I fundraise for, Chestnut Tree House, has hugely struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic as so many races have been cancelled and then rely on these races for people to fundraise just to keep them open. The SDW100 is on, I have a place, can do some fundraising, so I feel that is it only right that I do so.

And thus the monster is born. Except this monster has to fit what should really be at least 1 years dedicated training into 20 weeks, shed at least 15kg during that time and then “monster” his way across 100 miles of the South Downs in November. Could it rain? Very likely. Could it be windy? Extremely likely. Will it be cold? Definitely. Will I have to run for 14 hours in the darkness during this race. Yes.

I have spent most of my life biting off more than I can chew, then chewing like crazy. If I am honest, this technique has worked fairly well. I have a feeling this time the bite may just be that little bit too big.

Is it possible to train up to 100 mile Ultra Marathon fitness in 20 weeks. We are going to find out!



And so it begins – incremental gains

So, as I write this blog post it is 27 weeks until I will be lacing up my trainers and running the South Downs Way 100!

For those of who budding Carol Vorderman’s out there, you will quickly realise that this is just over half a year. This seems like a very long time. Despite this, my training plan has already begun.

As I blogged on my previous post “Why you should write your own training plan”, I have written my own training plan. Usually I would write a plan then ignore it, but this is not going to be the case this time.

The reason I know this to be the case, is that I have recently become very interested in the idea of “incremental gains”. Whilst the theory behind this is simple to understand, the ramifications are profound.

Image result for milo carrying calf
Milo and his bull

Imagine you are learning to do something, which you regularly practice, but you only get 1% better at that thing week on week. It would be logical to assume that over 27 weeks you would be 27% better at that thing, but this is not how it works. Now you are going to have to bear with me a bit here, this gets a bit mathematical, but if you read to the end I am sure it will be worth it 😉

Each 1% is compounded, meaning that rather than being 27% better, you are actually almost 30% better (trust me, the maths works out here). Where this starts to get interesting is if you improve faster than 1%. So a 2% week on week increase in fitness would mean an overall increase over 27 weeks of 67% on your overall fitness. 3% would equal a 115% increase in fitness.

So the £64,000 question is, can you realistically improve 3% on your fitness week after week after week? The answer to this is a definite no (as you will see below), but it is also not needed. 1% is good enough. If we were to break this down to something everybody could relate to, lets say your 5km time, it starts to makes sense.

If on week one I am capable of a 30 minute 5km (which in my case I am), then 1% week on week improvement would mean that at the end of 27 weeks I should be able to run 5km in 23 minutes and 10 seconds. This is a simply huge improvement, but is spread out over 27 weeks, so possibly achievable.

On the contrary, if I improved by 3% week on week, then I would be running a 13minute 55 second 5km after 27 weeks. Now I think we can all agree this is impossible. So 3% improvement not likely, but 1% possible? I am not sure, but lets carry on theorising regardless.

But I am not running 5km. I am running 100 miles, with a 30 hour cut off period. So lets look at the same numbers for a marathon

As things stand, my marathon PB is 5 hours. Improving 1% on my marathon pace week on week over 27 weeks would see me theoretically capable of a 3 hour 51 minute marathon at the end of that 27 week period. Now this is much more like it. Even a half of a percentage improvement week on week would see me cutting 40 minutes off of my marathon time over 27 weeks.

Now I would hope that the 1% improvement is achievable. Get the exercise right, stay injury free and eat clean and I should be OK. So that is my plan. Try to get 1% better week on week for the next 27 weeks. If I can hit this, I can finish 100 miles. I have no doubt.

I told you, it is all about incremental gains.